Mad Biker

I don’t know if we’ve put anything on the backburner longer than teaching Madison how to ride a bike. She and I had all of those pre-Cole and Avery summers together to get into it, but we never did. I guess it doesn’t surprise me that the pressure of a deadline motivated Lynnette (mostly) and I to finally give it a try. She’s got a bike safety class in school this year. “Are you the only one that can’t ride a bike?” Lynnette asked Mad last week. “No, there are others,”Mad replied. “How do you know? Did they make you guys raise your hands?” Lynnette asked. “Yeah,” Madison responded casually.

1Madison’s first bike was one of those Minnie Mouse deals with training wheels and tassels on at the edge of the handlebars that would tickle Mad’s thighs and eventually lead to more scratching than bike riding. We bought this pink, blue, and white bike a couple of years ago, but it was too big for Madison then. This was literally the first time she got on a trainerless bike. The first thing that Lynnette did was rip off the tassels and stuff them into the little pouch at the front of the handlebars. I assume in time Madison will fill the pouch with snacks and then the empty wrappers of those snacks. For now, though, she probably shouldn’t put anything in there, you know, so as not to disrupt her delicate balance.

2Coach Lynnette made an appearance and I’m glad Coach Phil didn’t. I mean, of course Coach Phil’s voice showed up – “KEEP PEDALING!” “IF YOU’RE LOOKING AT YOUR FEET, YOU’RE NOT LOOKING WHERE YOU’RE GOING!” “START TURNING!” – but it was Lynnette who did the hands-on teaching. I got to take pictures and push the twins around.

It was slow-going to start the lesson. Lynnette began by holding the back Madison’s seat to balance her, but it didn’t help much. Just like when Mad started her dance classes, she had a difficult time doing more than one thing at a time. In this case, she couldn’t pedal and steer at the same time because she couldn’t look at her hands and feet at the same time.

3Once we got to the basketball courts I told Lynnette to let her go. “She gotta learn,” I said. Incidentally, this single statement defines my entire teaching and parenting philosophy. There are some things people have to find out for themselves, you know?

Lynnette reluctantly released her grip on Mad’s seat and we learned that we were worried for no reason. It was a miracle! Madison was off and riding. She moved in somewhat wobbly straight lines, then figured out how to turn. I instructed her to apply the breaks, then reaccelerate. She did both on the first try.

4It’s not perfect – she still struggles in narrow spaces because she thinks she’s going to bang into a fence or wall or car or tree or the grass or some oncoming object 50 feet in front of her. She’s asked to go out agin today, and I know that we have to. She needs reps on the bike to get better, to feel comfortable. “Whoa, Madison,” Lynnette said in a slightly mocking manner. “Pretty soon you’re gonna be riding around Nohona with all your boy friends.” Madison and I both scoffed.

As I tailed Madison home I laughed; it took her 9 years, 4 months, 10 days, and 10 minutes to learn to ride a bike. But she only started in the last 10 minutes.

 

A Lynnette Appreciation Post

Lynnette and I have been together since 2003. Our relationship is a couple of years into puberty and so like sometimes when we look at each other, we can just be all “whatevers”. But Lynnette’s been feeling herself recently and when I pull my eyes away from legendary Pokemon long enough, even my eyes – stained with the lenses of familiarity – Β can see that she’s straight fire right now.

1

“Smile!”

“Smile,” I said at a stoplight. She turned and tossed me one of these. “So fake! I said. “What?” she said, cocking her neck back to feign shock. “That’s your fake smile,” I said. I shook my head. “That’s the smile you use for standard family photos, or if someone randomly asks you take a picture,” I said. She began to laugh wildly. “Not even!” she said through her laughter. “C’mon, mom!” Madison shouted from the back seat. She composed herself and I asked her to smile again. This is what she did instead:

2

“No, for real!”

She’s got eyebrows now. She’s eating better. She’s registered herself for the Makahiki Challenge in December. “I signed up before I looked at the pictures,” she said. “So what? You bite off more than you can chew?” I asked. “Maybe,” she said. But she’s got this.

There’s a lot about Lynnette I don’t and can’t understand. Case in point: When Lynnette drives, she only uses her blinker to change lanes just as she’s about to change lanes, never to declare her intentions. Today, she was trying to get over one lane to her right. Her left hand was poised on the blinker. But she didn’t use it. “Is this guy gonna let me in or what?” she muttered as she glanced at the side view mirror. “HOW IS HE SUPPOSED TO KNOW TO LET YOU IN IF YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR BLINKER ON?!” My hands hung about my head like that Jackie Chan meme. “Philip…” she said as she began to slide into the next lane, just then flashing her blinker, then turning it off.

There are other things I don’t understand either. She’s a doer and a go-getter; I am not. That’s how I know she’s going to emerge from the Makahiki Challenge victorious. Filty and sore, but victorious. Once she puts her mind to something, she just bangs it out. She carried three kids and ate ice chips for three days to birth the last two. Today, she drove me around to look for Zapdos and only rolled her eyes 40 times. She routinely does the amazing.

Lynnette,
You totally deserve that tiramisu you’re inhaling right now – that and so much more. Thank you for being the (hot) glue of our family.

Avery at 21 Months

12Avery stood atop her high chair banging at the window when I got home. She stopped momentarily to look at me. Then she resumed her pounding.

As ever, Avery remains the PITA Girl. She’s graduated to different forms of trouble recently. She pulls empty cans out of our recycling bin and walks around the house with empty Cokes hanging from her teeth. She bangs cabinet doors against each other. She’s doing it right now. It’s amazing. She learned to open the door to the washer and dryer and has programmed fake loads of laundry. She turns off my computer – while I’m using it. She’s not just a daughter, she’s an adventure.

Aside from these hobbies, she still very much enjoys eating. She’s a snacker like her mother, but also big meal hunter like her dad. She knows exactly what she likes and doesn’t like just like her mom, but also eats a ton of what she likes like her dad. I really is the best and worst of both worlds.

She loves spinning in quick circles until she makes herself dizzy. One of her favorite pastimes is running into a room until she slaps her hands against a wall. Then, she’ll turn around and run into another room until she slaps another wall. She can go on like that. It’s really funny when her sprints get Cole rile up and he starts running around, too. But he never runs nearly as long as Avery. She loves wide open spaces. Last Sunday morning we took the kids to the new play area at Ala Moana. Rather than explore or climb, Avery took off jogging toward the front doors of the soon-to-be Target. The day before she jogged throughout the water park. She could spend all day going up and down flights of stairs.

DCIM101GOPROG0744265.All the time we spent together this summer seems to have brought Avery and I closer. Lynnette is still far and away Avery’s favorite – don’t get me wrong – but Avery seeks me out more often. She enjoys when I tote her around the house and open the pantry so she can get a good look at all the snacks on the top shelf.Β She cackles when tossed into the air. She and I have wrestling matches; I hit her with the AA, muscle buster, powerbomb, German suplex, and the Pefect-plex. She squeals the entire time. She laughs so hard that she drools all over me. If I put her down to catch my breath, she yells, runs into my legs, and shoves herself into me in order to get me going again.Β I’m her favorite so long as Lynnette isn’t around. I can live with that. Lynnette’s my favorite, too.

Cole at 21 Months

12I put my toes back into the try-to-do-work-at-home waters, but a little shark came swimming up to me almost immediately.

Cole Joseph, the sun god, Cubby Candy, is 21 months old today and is curious as ever. He climbed the chair next to me as soon he saw the laptop screen glow with life. He played it cool at first, but eventually made a move at what he came for. The little index finger of his right hand moved slowly toward the keyboard. On another night, I think, I might have been less tolerant of his interference. But tonight, I just plopped him in my lap and let him drive the cursor with the track pad. He was so excited to watch the tiny hand move around that he lost his binky.

He loves getting into things. He enjoys looking at picture books with images he recognizes. He loves screaming and pointing at things he recognizes when we are out. He still only has about 5 words in his vocabulary, but the one he uses the most is “doo-doo”. Madison and I tried to take the twins out every day during the summer. There was always a high likelihood of an Abby turd on the pad waiting for us when we got home. It began innocently enough; Madison and/or I would block the twins from the turd while saying “No, no, doo-doo,” as they saw said turd, grew curious about its existence, and approached it. This became a routine. So, now, as soon as we pull into the driveway, Cole starts saying “doo-doo!” over and over. It intensifies if there actually is a turd in the living room. He points at it, too. I hope he somehow shames Abby into stopping her malicious turdiness. How serious is Cole about this situation? A few days ago Lynnette and watched as he pulled a dryer sheet out of the laundry, then proceeded to walk around the living room, stopping only to bend over and pantomime picking up an imaginary turd while saying “doo-doo!” over and over. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. It’s the only way to make sure I still have ab muscles under there.

DCIM101GOPROG0523631.But for all his recognition, the one that makes me happiest is his reaction to learning we’ve arrived at my parents’ house. I can’t know for sure why he loves the place. I assume it has something to do with the space and new toys. But I know for sure that my mom is a major reason. Last Sunday we pulled up to the H and Cole’s eyes opened from a nap. He sleepily looked at me first, then turned his head and saw the house. He squealed. When I carried him toward the house and my mom popped through the front door, he perked up, pointed at her, and went through his list of excitable noises.

He leans into her. He doesn’t mind being held, carried around by my mom. When it’s time to leave, he cries and tries to make it back to her. Two weeks ago at the beach, she followed him around the sand and water the entire time. It might have started then. I don’t know. I just hope it never ends. My mom and I never got along. We were polar opposites in all the ways that matter, too alike in the worst possible ways, but most significantly, she needs control and I have always needed space and freedom. There were times in my adolescence and young adulthood when she was the most prominent antagonist in my life. I viewed her with contempt and anger, rage even. We never worked until I moved out and had a family of my own. Perhaps she needed to know I’d be okay on without her; maybe I had to become a parent to understand why she held on so damn tightly. But that’s all in the past. In the future, I hope that Cole can have the relationship with my mom that I never had.

WAH-WAH!!!!!

Cole and Avery made their first trip to the water park today. It was also Madison’s triumphant return; she hadn’t been since the summer of 2015 – or as we like to call it – The Last Summer of Peace.

DCIM102GOPROG1035143.Cole enjoyed playing in the shallow waters the most. He rode the slides and was forced under waterfalls, but nothing seemed to please him as much as simply standing in knee-to-waist-high water. He splashed himself. He splashed Avery. He splashed the fake rocks that lined the kids’ area.

Still, he’s such a funny guy. Whenever we’re out and he catches a glimpse of a water fountain or koi pond or sprinklers, he lunges at them with the full force his tiny frame can muster. He cries when we don’t allow him in. And then when we go to a water park where he can actually go into the fountains, ponds, and sprinklers, he plays coy. “Nahnahnah,” he seems to say in a high-pitched voice. “I nevah like dat much watah, boo.”

DCIM102GOPROG0874670.Avery, on the other hand enjoyed running across the park on its many concrete walkways. For a full five minutes, I followed her around the property as she bounce-jogged. “She’s running with her eyes closed!” exclaimed a woman who could see Avery’s face. “Is she really?” I said. “Yes!” the woman replied. Well then Avery must have some kind of supernatural sense for the absolute worst places to run. She tried multiple times to run into the water at the bottom of the blue slides. She tried to run down into the Shaka waiting area. Best of all, she ran all the way to the wave tank, saw it from the railing, then got on her hands and knees and tried to crawl under the railing which was 6 inches from the ground. Another woman nearby cracked up. “I don’t think you’re going to make that one, sweetie,” she said.

DCIM102GOPROGOPR4957.Avery was the first to fall asleep. Lynnette strapped her into the Ergo as she and Madison went to get lunch. By the time they returned with their plates Avery was knocked out. She rested with her mouth wide open on Lynnette’s chest for the entire meal. She was still knocked out when we returned to the kids’ area. That’s one of the things about Avery – she doesn’t fight her naps. If she’s tired and someone (mostly Lynnette) rocks or carried her for long enough, she’ll go to sleep and stay asleep. She took a nap at the beach last week, too. I hope this continues as long as it possibly can because…

DCIM102GOPROGOPR5319.…Cole is like Madison. He rarely takes naps outside of a car ride, and worst of all, he fights his sleep. This leads to the arrival of Fussy Cole who hates walking, loves being carried, and melts down at even the slightest hint in the shift in the carrier’s body posture and weight that the carrier might put him down. Madison used to behave exactly like this, too, but as she’s gotten older, Fussy Madison manifests herself in sass, sarcasm, and eye rolls. The teenage years are going to me nothing short of amazing. And by amazing I mean maddening. She said something to me the other day about Lynnette taking her bra shopping “probably about the same time” as she gets her own cell phone and I made a face like I smelled a fart, then got lightheaded.

DCIM102GOPROG0995029.For now, though, Mad’s still a kid and today made her whole summer. Every time we drive past the water park on the way to Target, she wistfully looks out the window and/or makes some comment about wondering what it’s like now and not having been there since before the twins were born. She had been looking forward to today for almost a month. I am happy to report that she played on the bigger kids’ side for three hours without having to tend to Cole or Avery. It is the least Lynnette and I could have done for the Big Sister who spent her summer in service of her family. I hope you enjoyed the last weekend of your summer, Mad. 4th grade starts Monday.

Thank you for a wonderful day, Uncle Mutts and Aunty Tanz!

DCIM102GOPROG1065256.

So Long, Summer 2017!

I have work meetings tomorrow and Thursday. I’ll meet my homeroom and take my 20th yearbook photo as a student/faculty member of Damien Memorial School. Time, as they like to say, flies. But honestly, it flies whether or not you’re having a good time, just like this summer.

1This summer was far from ideal but it was better than the last. Last summer Madison and I hand-fed the twins during breakfast and lunch and spent two months inventing sturdier makeshift barricades which were always eventually torn down or worked around by my two favorite raptors. Also, nobody got seriously ill this summer, so it has that going for it.

We ran some errands today, this last day of summer, because although summer ends, life never ever does. I paid for the snacks in this photo; fear not. We found a Coke bottle with Cole’s name on it. Cole and Avery nearly rioted when we passed the ball pit without taking one, and Madison didn’t help, either with her “Look, dad! They (I) really want a ball! It’s only $3!”

24I broke out the pool in the afternoon. After a cloudy morning, the skies smiled down upon us. At the beginning of the summer the twins couldn’t handle much more than 20 minutes in the water before getting cold and asking out. Now? When I ask them if they’re ready to get out, they’ll make some noise that means “no” – even while they’re shivering.

I really have to hand it to Madison. There have been some rough spots this summer, but overall, she’s been a great big sister to Cole and Avery. Did you know she’s strong enough to carry Cole and Avery (one at a time, obviously) up the stairs now? Well, if they let her.

Fittingly, Avery caused a never-before-seen stir this afternoon. Madison got Cole up the stairs and in a diaper without incident, but “without incident” is the antithesis of Avery’s existence. Madison got up two steps before Avery started squirmed. “Just let her go,” I said. “Naked?” Madison squealed. “Why not?” I said. And so this. A bare-assed Avery climbed up our staircase as a bewildered Cole looked on, Madison laughed on, and I took this priceless photo. “What is this business?” Lynnette asked when she viewed the photo. This business, love, is our life.

3I’m not going to lie. Sometimes when I’m washing those highchair trays, sippy cups, and unmovable suction cup plates that move because they’re too big for our highchair trays, I stare out the window at the sky and think about all the things I want to be doing instead: hiking, going to the beach, Pokemon Go-ing. I get frustrated. I know this is not the last summer like this one. Yes, it will be better next year like this one was better than the last, but still. I’m human and I don’t feel the least bit ashamed to say that I have sublimated many of my own personal desires for the sake of the team, in the name of family – and sometimes I wonder when is it going to be my turn? Even though I know that it will likely never come to pass.

Yet, I finally got my tan (at least in the face) that will last me through the middle of August. We got around to fishing. I got to take a ton of pictures of my family. I ate much better than I should have. Somebody massaged me with their feet. I have all three legendary Pokemon. I went to Shirokiya then Mai Tai then Dave and Buster’s then The Republik on a Wednesday night and I managed to function on Thursday. My air conditioner works. Best of all, I’ve got a whole set of new memories with the summer squad.

So long, Summer 2017! Nothing gold can stay.

Insert Fishing Pun Here _________________

DCIM101GOPROG0563735.I have spent the last month adjusting to a change in my health and some of its consequences. It is not terribly difficult, but it requires more thought and attention to detail than I am accustomed to because I haven’t thought about or paid attention to my health for the last, okay, since forever.

Lynnette can be a pain in the ass sometimes with the nagging and the urging and the passive-aggressive mentioning that’s really suggesting but c’mon, it’s really a statement of preference, figure it out, Phil. In this, however, she has been such a pillar of support. I am lazy. When I am not lazy, I can be stubborn. I can apply my cleverness to the slippery of logic of justification in attempts to weasel my way out of things and into my comfort zone. But Lynnette has never let me just float around in my comfort zone.

Today at the beach, she rocked Avery into a nap. I needed a rest so I plopped down next to Gravy and closed my eyes for a little while. When I got up, Lynnette was still standing on the reef fishing. I walked over to where she and my dad were set up and had my camera ready for what I hoped was an eventual, inevitable strike. It took a while. So I watched her from behind. She leaned forward slightly to hold the line in the water. She jerked the pole skyward when she felt a nibble. I could see a little frustration. She had only caught one, another came off the hook as she brought it out of the water. As I watched her, I got hit with one of those “how did I end up here?” trains of thought. I looked at my father, patiently baiting the hook for my wife. I turned to see my mother leaning over my son, holding his face in her hands, whispering something meant only for him. My older daughter shouted as she dove into a shallow pool in hopes of scooping some fish. My youngest child lay still in the shade of a small tent.

Moments like these feel like time travel. I recall the events required to get here. I wish here could last forever. I imagine the events between here and the all the way down there. And all my thoughts – the then, now, forever – are only possible because of Lynnette. Thank you for all that you do for me, Love. I love you.